Robin Black simply doesn't need an Introduction. There is hardly anyone in the combat sports world who may need a prelude about this living legend. And if you are one among those who are ignorant about this maverick philosophers existence, you are about to transform your perception about the fight game once you finish reading this combat chronicle.
This Intergalactic rock star, who fights out of Canada is often compared to the Quentin Tarantino of the fight world. He has given a new life and soul for the ancient art of fight breakdowns. His work accelerates the fight IQ's of millions via the interwebs. A hardcore believer in Bruce Lee philosophy, he has analyzed and commentated every style of fighting we have today.
Robin's expertise has been harnessed by all major fight promotions in the past, but things are about to change as BRAVE CF has stepped in and won some exclusivity over his valuable time. With the help of a proactive friend at BRAVE, I got this brilliant opportunity to speak with this legend, ahead of his promotional debut with BRAVE.
So, without further adieu, let's delve into what the new voice of BRAVE CF has to say about his latest mission, and learn from his valuable insights.
First off, It is an absolute honour to speak with you and an even greater privilege to watch you commentate for BRAVE in the coming days. How do you look at this latest mission of yours?
Robin Black: Thank you very much for saying that brother, the honour is mine. And it will be an honour for me to commentate for BRAVE. I am so excited about it, I am just so thrilled to sit Cageside when I do come over to the Middle East, and describe the beauty of what we are seeing between this really elite fighting men and women.
The mission and the job with BRAVE for me is to help you know, yes I want to commentate and analyse specific fighters these wonderful athletes they have any yes I want to commentate and analyse specific fights,but I think my job is to help grow peoples awareness in appreciation of martial arts themselves and I think is seeing that mission as well.
My personal mission is that, to help people see the beauty in martial arts, the beauty in combat, not just punches and kicks but the expressions of humanity and individuality that you see in fights and brave understand this, and this is part of their mission as well, to grow peoples love of combat and love of martial arts.
I think there is a great deal of misunderstanding about what we are seeing when we see human beings compete in martial arts, I think there is a real true repetition in how we represent it and how we talk about this, too many formulas I think in how people put on a fight. These days fighting shows around the world think that you have to introduce people in a particular way, they have to walk out in a particular way, and they have to hug the coaches and then we discuss whats happening between the artists.
And I think that's a very big weakness in how we are sharing the beauty of combat, and I think BRAVE is going to be on the forefront of how people see and experience martial arts and I see that is my role, I see that I can play a big role in that, after commentating 4 or 5 or 6 shows for Brave, this wonderful martial arts organisation. I believe I can influence and change the way the people view martial arts and that's my mission and this is the right company for me to be a part of to achieve that mission and help them achieve theirs.
If it is not against the stipulations of your agreement, can you please tell us a bit about your contract with BRAVE. Does this mean you will be less involved in UFC and other promotions across the world?
Robin Black: In regards to my contract with brave, that's actually very interesting because so far we haven't flushed out what exactly my contribution will be. All we have really decided is, this brilliant company sees that my skills, and my abilities, and my passion is a good fit for their growth. And I see that this company is a perfect place for me to come to because I believe what they do.
So as of yet, all we have done is that I want to start to do more and more analysis of Brave of the of the fighters in BRAVE, of the show for the audience of the martial arts we are seeing and how we are growing this art form. And they've said, they want me to be a part of it.
I believe in what BRAVE is doing so much, that you know if the scenario is right, I will absolutely become less and less involved with the UFC and with other promotions I work for. Absolutely, I believe in what BRAVE is doing, I can commit myself to be a part of that.
What I am looking for, truthfully, myself currently I am a freelancer I take my passion and my appreciation for martial arts for studying martial arts and sharing what I find and I take my skills and analysis in editing, in talking and in commentating fighting, and currently I travel around the world and I give those skills in a gift those my time and my efforts to anywhere there are fights. And I love to do this and I love to travel, I've been travelling to Russia and South Korea and China in the United States in Europe, for the last number of years and I'm proud to do so.
But what I am truly looking forward to in the long term is somebody to help me to be a part of something bigger than myself, where I can contribute my love of fighting and my analysis and the way that I passionately share what we find to entertain and to educate the audience.
I want to be a part of something bigger and I see brave as very very very much does the leading likely place where I can do this I am committed to you giving my best work and no they have discussed me doing analysis and then more and more analysis, then live commentating Cageside. Pre and post-fight analysis, interviews with the fighters, breakdowns this is all been discussed. we haven't flushed out what exactly it looks like, but I am very very excited about it.
We know you have mastered the science of fighting, more than its business side. But, do you attribute the diminishing PPV sales at UFC to the rise of other promotions, such as BRAVE; which delivers some world-class fighting?
Robin Black: Yes, my interest and my curiosity and what I am driven to study is martial arts itself, the combat, the artistry and the meaning, not just the punches and kicks but the fact that that combat of Martial artistry is an expression of self-individuality, motion, of personality, and so I am interested predominantly in the emotional, the technical, the physiological and the psychological, all of the aspects of what it is to fight another human being, that is my number one interest.
But if you work in the engine room of the ship, to do the best work you can, you need to then understand the ship and even then once you understand the ship, to do the best work you can, you have to then understand the navy and that is what it is to study anything. And so, I have over time realised that my job cannot just be studying martial arts but it must be taking the things we learn from studying martial arts and applying them to things like editing video, and to things like how social media works, how PPV works, how large corporations work, because to do my job to the best my ability and put myself in a position where I can do the job in the way the people will see and consume I have to understand all these things, so I have studied all these over the last few years. Not with the same passion and intensity and curiosity that I study martial arts, but I have studied the entire picture of presentation of martial combat.
So you ask about, the diminishing PPV sales in the UFC, I can go a step further and said that there are lowering television ratings and lowering social media metrics and there is a general decline. And your question is, Do you attribute this to the rise of promotions such as BRAVE? and my answer is there is no question that it is an ingredient. BRAVE in the Middle East is large and influential and making incredible fights and inspiring audiences and there are others, there are large beautiful organizations in Asia and in Russia and yes the globalization of the consumer is a part of the diminishing control the one organization has in the fight business.
It is my belief, talking about something like the UFC, which is our interest in this, because we are interested in martial arts or the largest company in the video game world or the largest company in movies or whatever, the largest companies move slowly, it's very hard to change the direction on a giant ship. But, when you are in a Canoe, you can change direction very quickly. So the bigger the organization gets these companies like McDonalds or Coca-Cola or the UFC or Nike or whatever they are, it's hard to change.
Today, the way people view martial arts and experience it is different, but the way that the big companies in North America present it is the same. So we the consumer, for us the consumer, it feels repetitious. For me, in my future with BRAVE, It's my job, it is of tremendous importance to me that we do not imitate.
Companies like ours should not be doing things similar to how the North American companies presented fighting, that's the old way. We are new, we should do it in a new way. Definitely, as a commentator that's my role and I will not be a cheap imitation of the analysts & commentators that came before. And that is what 90% of the analysts and the commentators do, they just imitate what they have seen and heard before and I wouldn't do that.
Even in the videos that promote the fights, the website, the social media post the phraseology, the way that the weigh-ins take place, the way the fighters interact with each other, all of these things should be different. They shouldn't look anything like today all the North American companies television. It's a new era with a new audience and younger mindset with an innovative period in human history and we should not be imitated, and I think the reason why the bigger and older companies are shrinking, is because they cannot innovate, they have become slaves to their formulae.
And when you watch these promotions from North America, its the exact same walk off, the exact same camera angles, exact same fight interview, and the exact same commentating. And nobody knows how to shift it and the ways to shift it and that's what I want to do, and that's what I do and that's what I am passionate about doing and the reason I love BRAVE is because that is what they believe in, that is the future of BRAVE, the future of martial arts, the future of the way martial arts is presented and consumed is BRAVE and I am going to be a big part of this.
You have a very large fan following which includes great minds like Joe Rogan and UFC boss Dana White. It almost appeared that you were going to be more involved in UFC very soon. Any particular reason for this sudden shift to Brave CF?
Robin Black: Thank you for saying that brother. It is very special to me that people appreciate my work. I watch these brilliant martial artists compete and grow and change and evolve and put on these beautiful artistic and inspiring moments and I study them and learn what I can from them and share what is found with the audience. And it means a lot to me when people like my work and it means a lot to me that my perspective of viewing and experiencing martial arts inspires people and insights them.
And it does mean a lot to me that great men like Joe Rogan have supported me. Joe is a very good friend and a great human being and incredibly generous with me and incredibly supportable of my work and he mean a great deal to me. Chael Sonnen is another one, he may be a little behind the scenes but he goes out of his way to help me and share my work in and tell anyone who listens how are uniquely special my work is, and that's very kind. And yes, Dana White seems to be a big fan of my work as well.
When Conor McGregor was fighting Floyd Mayweather, Dana had asked for me by name and come and to do the analysis of Conor for ESPN in America. And yes, I have always been thrilled to work for UFC. I do a lot of work in Canada for TSN, which is a sports channel and a broadcast partner for UFC in Canada. When you watch UFC on TV, you see it on TSN and I am the TSN analyst and I am so proud to do this.
Because this is my home and I live in Canada, I love to travel the world and I love to learn from different cultures in an experience different things and learn from different people and see how different people live, but I still have a home and this is my home, and the UFC is the largest and martial arts sports organization in North America and I'm so proud to be the person, that fellow Canadians look on TV. And I'm the one who tells them the stories about it.
And I'm proud to do that and I'm proud to work for the UFC, because there are wonderful fighters and inspiring fights and I know that I view and experience and share it differently than all other analysts and I know I also at times shape how other analysts see it because some of my fans are like you have mentioned people like Rogan and Chael and other broadcasters, and so I am excited to try to influence them to see martial arts the way I see it. And even if they see it only a little bit, it has an effect on the way the audience sees it. And I am excited to work for Dana and to with Joe when I can, or with any of these guys to tell the story of UFC.
But, BRAVE is young, Brave is vital and BRAVE Is new and BRAVE is growing, and to be part of one of the biggest things for me with being the part of what BRAVE is doing is it's new it doesn't have overly committed and overly rigid formulae, It hasn't cemented or firmed up on how the organisation is to present the fighting and talk about fighting. That's what larger and older organizations do, they become rigid, they become very very firm.
And the exciting thing about a company like BRAVE is, as large as it is and as influential as it is, and as bright future it has, It is also young and its still pliable and it's still plastic, someone like me is just a small piece of puzzle of a great organisation like BRAVE. Someone like me can influence, how we do this going forward and how we present fighting in 2020 and 2022 and 2025. And I believe that I have a perspective that is different but that is proven, and that in my own little world that I've been able to present and share martial arts, this way that people respond and I believe that I can have played a small but important part of a company like a BRAVE. And that excites me, it also excites me when I met the team.
These are brilliant driven people with the large goal to make a change to make a permanent change to the sport and art in the way it is consumed, that is exciting to me and that is something I want to be a part of.
You have practised traditional martial arts like Sikaran and been a commentator for fight events ranging from Wushu to Sumo. Brave is going Morocco next month and it features a 'Sambo Vs BJJ' matchup (Shorty Rock vs Alkhasov) among others. What is your take on this the 'Sambo Vs BJJ' debate? Is any of these styles superior to the other?
Robin Black: My brother, the fact that you somehow know the fact that I practised Sikaran in Winnipeg Manitoba, Canada when I was a teenager shocks me and humbles me. But yes I have the great Fortune and it is the greatest joy in my life is to study Martial Arts and this is what I do and I am laughing right now, but over the last number of years, I have commentated Sambo, Sumo, Wushu, Kickboxing, Savate, Belt wrestling, Boxing, wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu, Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, three or four different kinds of wrestling and those are just the first ones that come to mind. if it's combat, I have commentated it.
I've commentated over 5000 fights, well over 475 fight cards now, as well as, thousands and thousands of matchups in Karate, Taekwondo, Sanda for all over the world. This has been my job, and when I talk about it, I am the happiest human being in the world, the fact that I get to do this and I get to share this with people and they appreciate this is incredibly inspiring to me.
You ask about Sambo Vs BJJ, I think there's a long conversation here about styles that we are going to have, you and I, one day and I hope this would be something that I get to talk about in various ways as the BRAVE commentator and analyst. And certainly, when sitting beside the cage at BRAVE event all over the world. This would be an ongoing part of the discussion. But I don't think, there are styles. Bruce Lee famously talked in the seventies about how styles were styles and dogmas that prevented thinking, I would like to go a step further and say that, they don't really exist.
It's just repetitious, somebody thought something and said it this way and it was passed on for hundreds and thousands of years and they did it that way. There isn't such a thing as style, and when I say these people think I'm crazy or I people who have a casual interest in these things, will make memes and tease me about it.
But there is no such thing as Boxing or Sambo or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It's just a collection of choices, fighting is freedom, fighting is anything and everything, and how one fights, is an expression and extension of who they are, and their creativity. It's the physical expression of their creativity and their desires and their emotion. And the freer they become and how they can move and how they can physically express themselves, the more they can do this.
Of course, When I say there is no such thing as Boxing or Sambo, there is such a thing as Sambo. Somebody just put a jacket and a belt and trained it today. Of course, there is, but at the same time, these are made up. Is there such thing as Conservative or Democrat or Liberal? No, these are made up concepts. Is there anything such as Kickboxing or Karate? No, these are constructs, these are human constructs made by somebody else as a way to train something to achieve the desired goal.
And that's great when you start out, you need some kind of a structure when you're a child you take Karate or Sambo or BJJ, it gives you structure, you learn things, we have to learn things through repetitions, through practice, trying to achieve a particular goal with our body or mind. And so, these constructs are very real at that time. There is Sambo and there is BJJ, you train it every day.
But if you train martial arts long enough in your life, you realize it's silliness. There is no such thing, and I know I just said there are such things. When you are a child, you learn Karate, it's real, but when you master Karate and you train Boxing and you study Sambo, and you study Sanshou or Sanda or Sumo, you realize these are just choices, they are just collections of beliefs that people use to train, and eventually they become nothing at all, and I think the future of martial arts is these styles are irrelevant.
But we may be hundreds of years from there or that may never happen because human want beliefs, humans want things to be explained. Human beings are looking for structure or explanations, they are looking for simplicity and there is simplicity in what I am saying. There is complexity in saying what is a black belt in Karate, while there are 500 types of Karate from all over the world. There is a simplicity in saying there is no such thing as Karate, move your body however you like.
However, you can't do that unless you learn something. It is a long ongoing shifting of your own belief of what you know to be true, on and on and off and simplified and then make it more complex again as you study it until you understand it so deeply so that you can simplify it again. Martial Arts is the most incredible thing in the world, it really is and if you ask me this question in two years, I will think differently about it today and that excites me, and that excites me to know that I understand this in a different way than I know this today. That is the most thrilling thought to me and I am so happy to know that is true.
The 12-6 elbow rule is getting a lot of attention these days. As a proponent of evolution in martial arts, What are the rule changes you wish to see in MMA? Do you think BRAVE CF can trailblaze by implementing these new innovations in the game?
Robin Black: The 12-6 elbow rule- yes- many people know the story-what to they call them? Yes, the unified rules; but they are not really unified. The day those rules were being crafted, somebody was breaking large blocks of ice using the 12-6 elbow. The rule makers, who were different levels of martial artist, said, we cannot really have that since he broke that big piece of ice, he can break someone's head with that. In fact, the 12-6 elbow is not as bad as other elbows, eg, slashing arching elbows, it's not... it shouldn't be a rule.
So, what changes do I wish to see? In a perfect world, there would be no rules and there would be free fighting, as savage as it sounds, it would only take a week or month or years, it would only take a block of time to make it sound less savage. If biting or scratching of eyes was legal, the martial art would change rapidly to minimize that. If you and I, if we were to fight and it was the rule that you could scratch my eyes of, then we would, all coaches and all gyms would immediately change how to approach fighting so that it never happens to us ever. If there were no rules, martial arts would change to it's purest form and we would never see these horrible moments.
Of course, it is unpalatable for many who watch it. For me, as a martial artist, that Men and women who want to compete in this purest form of martial art would do so. But in reality, we can't have it as the audience will not have that. So to me, the fewer rules, the better. But at the same time, it's better that we have some rules, so that we can show this beautiful art form to the people. So it's not super important to me, but I think knees to the head of a downed opponent would be legal and it would very much change the game. It would very much change the shape of how fighting takes place.
If u ask me about BRAVE CF, we can of course trail blaze by implementing the innovations, by Implementing new perspectives. We can create new ways to share fighting. They can trailblaze by using a new way to present fighters. These are the very reasons that I'm so excited and so keen to be a part of BRAVE CF, that we do not have to follow those tired formulas of how fighting has been presented globally for past couple of decades.
We should consciously reject old formulas. If we create a mindset in BRAVE rejecting the old formula, always finding a new way or always creating a new way, always asking why, why do we call it TALE OF THE TAPE. Eg lets put this in Quotation "why do we call it take off the tape." Once upon a time, someone called it that in boxing, maybe in 30s, 40s, they did not intend it to be the only way. When people read in part of the broadcast the ' we have five 5- minutes rounds' and the 'bout is scored with fighting, grappling and cage control', we don't have to do that, we can do it if we choose to, but it's not really needed.
It's like airlines telling you to put the masks on and where the three fire escapes are. They do it because they have a legal requirement, but we don't have to. We don't have to hear it anymore, I've flown in aeroplane hundreds of times, we don't have to hear that anymore. it's all about presenting, there are no rules which states that we have to do it. If you really have to do it, you could have guests do it, like one day u have a child, one day some famous person, one day an orchestra etc. These are the things.
Every little thing can be changed. And in a world where we are bored of the repetition of the presentation of fighting or football or news, or anything, we should seek to change these tired old formulas. And being a part of BRAVE, one of the things which excite me apart from the brilliant team is the possibility to innovate in every area. Because, we are young, and big and influential as Brave already is. We are YOUNG and we are AGILE, and we can innovate and we can do it every single day. I'm so excited to be a part of this.
We thank the BRAVE CF for giving us an opportunity to interview this living legend. And for all the readers who just got inspired by reading about this beautiful human being, Robin Black speak about his Career, Breakdowns, influencers, early fighting days, Joe Rogan, Georges St-Pierre and more on PART 2 of this interview, which will be published soon, only on Sportskeeda.
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